The Spring is still shy

Today a different post…

panoramica

This afternoon, after getting my little sister to school, I’ve lost myself in one of the top far-off places near my home, El Collet de les Barraques. It’s a mountain pass surrounded by high mountains and breathtaking alpine grasslands.

P1020188

It takes me only 15km from my home through the narrow road you can see above that ascends until 1900m (6400ft). There you are surrounded by a dense Black Pine (Pinus uncinata) woodland characteristic of the subalpine level of vegetation, in fact it equals to the Taiga vegetation of Scandinavia, Russia, N of USA and rough regions of Canada.

Although leaving only one month to summer, last weekend and Monday kept snowing: at hills and high valleys accumulate over 1.5 m of snow. I’ve taken a walk without skis nor boots nor snowshoeing, just walking, only wetting my slippers and trousers…

When you reach 2000m the woodlands give way to alpine grasslands, covered by snow and ice from october-november to may-june.

I love this shy spring with huge contrasts between 2 worlds: the valleys and forests green and plenty of life, whilst hills and mountains still keep lethargic. Also I like the contrast between the warm of the sunshine, which heats a lot, and the chilly of ice and snow: you can take a walk in a t-shirt without freezing yourself.

Sometimes I’ve felt envy of your posts on your blogs about your trips throughout the planet, but I realise that often is not necessary to go so faraway to get what are you looking for, in my case a far-off place to get a wee bit of peace…

Ribes Valley (or Vall de Ribes, in catalan)

Sometimes it’s not necessary to spent much time, money or energy  to find a Far-Off place.There are lucky people (like me) that live near or inside a Far-off place… Even people who live in a big city can look for and find it.

Today I’m proud to show you the Ribes Valley (Vall de Ribes in catalan), a site plenty of lonely places, where I was born and where I still live (with some interruptions during my university period). I advise you that’s impossible to show in only one post all the magical sites of this Valley and surroundings so I’ve decided to add a new category on my blog: Near-my-home Far-off places.

The Ribes Valley is situated at the Pyrinees mountains, in the border between France and Catalunya.

Vall de Ribes on the map

Vall de Ribes on the map

Vall de Ribes is a rural and low-density population valley, with only 6 little towns and about 3000 inhabitants. Characterised by its roughness and high-contrast landscapes, with a minimum altitude of 900m (2900 ft) and a maximum of 3000 m (9840 ft), including deciduous forests, conifers woodlands and alpine grasslands covered with snow all the winter.

We have long cold snowy winters (with 4 ski resorts in a 30 km radius) and fresh stormy summers.

Puigmal Peak, the guardian and the highest point of Ribes Valley)

Puigmal Peak at 3000m (9840 ft) above the sea level, the guardian and the highest point of Ribes Valley)

Last Tuesday my sister and me spent a couple of hours in these places. The idea was to collect some new flowers and plants to my personal herbarium. We moved to a little town called Campelles (150 inhabitants) at 1200m (3940 ft) which has impressive pines and fir woodlands.

However, the winter has not yet gone… Only 3 flowers had emerged from the ground (the pioneers)

Even so, we used the time to take a snack while we were enjoying the landscapes.

Before came back to home, we saw and listened some strange animal signals. We followed for a while a poop-animal-truck in silence, and then, they appeared, a mouflon herd (a kind of alpine goat).

Mouflon herd

Mouflon herd

These animals are so difficult to meet due to their shyness and shortage, so we were lucky to saw them!

I let you one video, a little ugly and old-fashioned, but interesting. Enjoy it!